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Valve questions Microsoft's commitment to PC gaming

Half-Life 2 developer Valve has questioned Microsoft's Games for Windows retail push, with marketing manager Doug Lombardi stating, "If it's to promote sales of Vista, that's really not good for the industry."

While defending the strengths of the PC market, Half-Life 2 developer Valve has questioned Microsoft's Games for Windows push.

Microsoft is currently in the middle of an initiative that involves branding PC titles as Games for Windows, clearly labelling safety features, compatibility and ease of instillation.

But Valve is doubtful that Microsoft is backing PC gaming in the long term, suggesting that the initiative is under way purely to help increase sales of new operating system Vista.

"Right now it seems like it's part of the marketing push to help Vista," commented Doug Lombardi, marketing manager at Valve, in an exclusive interview for GamesIndustry.biz.

"To really back a platform is a sustained effort over years and years, so we'll see if in two years Microsoft is still spending money to put Games for Windows sections in retail, and having PR people preach that message that the PC isn't dying, itâs actually bigger than all the consoles put together."

"You know, if it were to sign up for that, that's great. If it's going to use it to promote sales of Vista, that's really not good for the industry, it's good for Microsoft in the short term," offered Lombardi.

Valve is a staunch defender of the PC, and points to the success of alternative revenue streams as evidence that the death of PC gaming is a myth.

Although NPD data ignores PC sales at retail, and episodic content and the sale of casual titles is also untracked, Lombardi sees the market as healthier than it is for some home consoles.

"Sony and Microsoft both have armies of PR people whose job it is to cram that information down the throats of press and analysts every day," said Lombardi.

"All those people do is say the PC's dying, the console's winning, and nobody on the PC side is championing that platform. And sales data tracks retail, and there's no doubt about it, PC sales at retail are declining."

Lombardi points out that, "World of Warcraft is making a whole lot of money outside of the retail channel, we're making a decent bit of cash off Steam, all the casual guys are not tracked - the PopCap games, Bejewelled, all that stuff doesn't show up."

"If you took World of Warcraft, Steam, PopCap and added it to the PC pool, all these huge revenues - just WOW by itself, right? If you took WOW's 2006 revenues and the 360's revenues and compared them, even then you would say I don't think the PC's really dead," he concluded.

The full interview with Valve can be read here.

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